MORNING RUSH: news, sport, weather, traffic and online buzz

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8.30am That's it from us this morning. Have a wonderful Wednesday - see you tomorrow!

8.16am Love a luxury hotel? Then check out the 1888 hotel in Pyrmont - wow, looks beautiful.

8.14am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A young woman is auctioning off her invisible friend on the advice of her psychologist. I wonder how much he will sell for!

8.12am WORLD NEWS: The man found murdered, wrapped in plastic and dumped in a Bali rice field with his throat slashed was trying to build a motel in Sanur and was experiencing serious cash flow problems, an Australian friend has said.

8.08am An interesting read about a couple who met on the day of their wedding - they're still together 33 years later.

8.06am In some other celeb news this morning, Pink has reportedly told Selena Gomez to ditch Justin Bieber. Ha! She would.

8.04am LOCAL NEWS: The release of the NSW Government's Draft Regional Growth and Infrastructure Plan has reignited concerns that the southern boundary of Gerringong could be further expanded into farmland.

*Reporter Alex Arnold has the story.

8.02am WORLD NEWS: Passengers flying to the US from three Ebola-stricken countries will have to fly into one of five designated American airports for additional screening, including having their temperature taken, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced yesterday.

8am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Camilla Alves has had to apply some pressure to partner Matthew McConaughey to get him to propose. Her words? "Either s**t or get off the pot." Romantic!

7.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. The cloud is set to clear today for a top of 21 degrees. Expect some light winds. All good on the roads. There are delays on the trains due to fatality at Tempe. Leave extra travel time.

7.56am HSC exams continue. Good luck to all sitting an exam today.

7.54am The Living End is set to play at Waves on October 31. Reporter Glen Humphries caught up with the band.

7.52am Got a spare $80 million? Great, this is what it will buy you in New York - one apartment with THIS view. Yes please. #prayingforalottowin

7.50am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A woman has created a jewellery line that you can clip onto your body and plug your phone in to charge. Yep, you read right.

7.46am Thanks to reader Judith deGroot who has just told us about train delays on the Illawarra & South Coast line due to a fatality at Tempe.

7.44am LOCAL NEWS: A Warrawong real estate business and licensee has been fined after mishandling rent money.

*We've got the full story here.

7.42am Okay, so we've been talking about Beyonce's new haircut - I'm wondering, can anyone else pull off the micro-fringe? It's a really hard look to get right. Thoughts?

7.40am We have some very talented creative types in the Illawarra - check out Pinky Maraude's wall art. Very cool.

7.38am EDUCATION: An oversupply of trainee teachers is putting a strain on schools that provide practical training for them, according to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, who has called for the number of places offered by universities to be capped. Read more.

7.36am CELEB GOSS ALERT: We have pics of George & Amul Clooney's new home. It's just a 17th century English mansion on a private island, no biggie.

7.34am So, it's race season and we all know what goes hand-in-hand with the races - booze. Here is a pictorial reminder NOT to get trashed on Melbourne Cup day - you don't want to look like this.

7.32am I absolutely love otters - I would seriously love one as a pet.

7.30am WORLD NEWS: A Canadian man who rammed two soldiers in Quebec with his car, killing one of them, converted to Islam last year and was among 90 people being tracked by Canadian police on suspicion of taking part in militant activities abroad or planning to do so.

7.28am Have you checked out our flashback gallery yet? We've stepped in the time machine & headed back to the noughties.

7.26am LOCAL NEWS: BlueScope has said any health effects arising from the fire at its Port Kembla sinter plant last week are "unlikely."

*Reporter Josh Butler has the story.

7.24am Ladies, want to shake up your hair routine? Here's some new hair styles to try - I love a pretty ponytail.

7.20am Okay, so I'm 28 but how old am I in fitness years? A new study of fitness and lifespan suggests that a person's so-called fitness age – determined primarily by a measure of cardiovascular endurance – is a better predictor of longevity than chronological age. Read more.

7.18am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Charlie Sheen is single again after breaking off his engagement to adult film star lover Scottine 'Brett' Rossi.

7.16am Some clever clogs has created a hilarious dog parody of Dawson's Creek - I bring you Dachsund's Creek. Too funny.

7.14am LOCAL SPORT: Hawks point-guard Gary Ervin is adamant he wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line despite the match-winning shot slipping through his fingers in Wollongong’s 91-89 homes loss to Cairns on Sunday. The boys play at the WEC at 2pm this Sunday.

7.12am WORLD NEWS: Hong Kong's political crisis shifted from its city streets to an austere university lecture theatre as student protest leaders faced off with government officials in a much-anticipated televised debate after more than three weeks of an unprecedented civil disobedience campaign.

7.10am NSW: An Antarctic station leader, a humanitarian aid worker, a medical innovator who has drastically cut sepsis mortality rates, and an adoption advocate with a Hollywood sheen – the group of NSW finalists for Australian of the Year 2015 is both eclectic and worthy. Read more.

7.08am I love this - taking business signs to a whole new level of funny.

7.06am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Here is a video of an Italian nun singing Madonna's Like A Virgin. I kid you not.

7.04am Have you booked your tickets to Rude, Crude & Musical? It's on this weekend at the City Diggers club. Tickets via trybooking.com

7.02am LOCAL NEWS: Kiama MP Gareth Ward has blasted the government's response to overcrowding on South Coast trains as "simply inadequate".

*Reporter Glen Humphries has the story.

7am This just awful - a 10-year-old girl has been bullied at school after she chopped off her hair for charity. Kids can be so MEAN!

6.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. The cloud is set to clear today for a top of 21 degrees. Expect some light winds. All good on the roads & rail.

6.56am MUSIC NEWS: Nicki Minaj has claimed that the barely-clothed booty-worship in her hypersexualised music video Anaconda shows "just what girls do". Hmmm, okay then.

6.54am Victorian mum Rosie Batty has broken down at the second day of the inquest into her son Luke's death. Luke was killed by his father during a after-school cricket match in 2012.

6.52am SPORT - NRL: Cronulla are in negotiations to sign Ben Barba as a replacement for sacked superstar Todd Carney.

6.50am Want to win a People for Plants skincare pack? Enter here.

6.48am NATIONAL: Ocean temperatures are again warming in the Pacific, helping to drive global temperatures to new highs and also leaving conditions primed for an El Nino event to be declared in coming months.

6.46am CELEB GOSS ALERT: What is up with Renee Zellwegger's face?! She looked CRAY when she appeared on the red carpet last night. #plastic

6.44am WORLD NEWS: A series of bombs targeting restaurants across Baghdad killed at least 21 people yesterday, police and medics said.

6.42am TV NEWS: Thank god, finally, Mark Holden has been eliminated from Dancing with the Stars. He was booed off the show last night after yet another (this time, shirtless!) bizarre performance. Here's a recap.

6.40am Want to cook like an Italian? Here's some tips from the professionals.

6.38am LOCAL NEWS: The backers of a 30-level hotel and residential tower planned for Wollongong's highest hill have been told to "suck it up" and alter their design or face having the project knocked back for good.

*Council reporter Kate McIlwain has the story.

6.36am A little dog funny for you on this chilly Wednesday morn. Enjoy.

6.34am Don't forget the Kiama Farmers' Market is on this afternoon.

6.32am LOCAL SPORT: The popular NSW Grand Prix cycling series has been canned, following confirmation the NSW Government would not chip in for the bills this year.

6.30am SYDNEY: Councils across Sydney have engaged auditors to sift through general and recycling bins, weighing and assorting their contents into 71 categories to build a detailed picture of the city's waste habits. What a crap job! 

6.28am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Blake Lively & Ryan Reynolds have walked the red carpet for the first time since Blake announced her pregnancy. And could they be anymore loved up!? Cute.

6.26am It might be regarded as the most important meal of the day, but skipping breakfast is the best way to tackle Australia's epidemic of obesity and fatty liver disease, new research suggests. Read more.

6.24am WORLD NEWS: New Zealand will have a role in the fight against Islamic State extremists in the Middle East, PM John Key has told Parliament.

6.22am TIARA ALERT: Kate Middelton has stepped out for her first official engagement since announcing her pregnancy - and she looks great!

6.20am LOCAL NEWS: A Wollongong man who claimed a shady character named ‘‘Dodge’’ led police on a wild goose chase and sparked a multi-agency ocean search earlier this month has admitted his guilt in court.

*Reporter Bree Fuller has the story.

6.18am CELEB NEWS: If you missed this one yesterday, legendary fashion designer Oscar De La Renta has died. Sex & the City fans will remember Alexander Petrovsky gifting Carrie THAT beautiful pink Oscar dress.

6.16am MUSIC NEWS: In an example of extreme celebrity fandom, a Miley Cyrus fan snuck backstage disguised as a cleaner at her Sydney concert on Friday. Read more.

6.14am BACHIE NEWS: Is it over? The saga, I mean, not Bachie's new romance with Louise. Last night, runner-up Lisa & "winner" Sam appeared on The Project and gave Blake a serve. Here's a recap.

6.12am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A runaway horse named Barry has sparked fear on the streets of New York after he broke free from his carriage. Love it! NB the highlight of the story is clearly that the horse's name is Barry.

6.10am WORLD NEWS: If you missed this last night, Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years in prison for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year, as his sensational trial reached a climax.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Taylor Swift has revealed she needs a constant security presence due to the sheer number of creepy men who approach her.

6.06am And in national news, via the SMH:

*The University of Sydney has removed a male student from an administrative role on campus after he admitted to taking a photo in secret of a female student during sex and showing it to other students.

*A seven-year-old boy was reportedly chasing a basketball when he ran on to Victoria Road on Tuesday afternoon and was struck by a taxi.

*A Sydney teenager has emerged as a poster boy for the Islamic State, appearing in a chilling recruitment video threatening Prime Minister Tony Abbott and vowing the militant group will fight until it conquers the West.

6.04am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*Gough Whitlam was a hero to many and a giant of a man whose vision transformed Australia into a modern, fairer multicultural nation. Illawarra politicians have paid tribute to him. Read more.

*An Illawarra community Facebook group is encouraging residents to ‘‘pay it forward’’. Read more.

*A 43-year-old Mount Warrigal man was airlifted to St George Hospital in a serious condition on Tuesday afternoon, after a horrific accident at Warrawong.

6.02am Let's kick things off with the latest weather & traffic.

WEATHER The cloud is set to clear today for a top of 21 degrees. Expect some light winds. Right now, it's 12 degrees at Albion Park & 14 at Bellambi.

TRAFFIC All good on our roads & for the run to Sydney.

TRAINS There is a good service on the South Coast line.

6am Good morning Illawarra! Happy hump day. Hope you're having a good week. Anybody else struggling to get up with these dark mornings? Temptation to go back to bed has never been greater! Anywho, I'm up & I've got the latest news for you.

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